The Advocate Blog Network

Search
Banner image

Postgame: Arkansas 17, LSU 0

LSU players walked to the locker room while Arkansas fans stormed the field. (Bill Feig)

LSU players walked to the locker room while Arkansas fans stormed the field. (Bill Feig)

The Game Story

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Alabama’s crushing, dramatic overtime win over LSU last week carried 530 miles north.

The Tigers laid an egg in chilly northwest Arkansas — a goose egg.

LSU’s offense bumbled and stumbled, its defense finally wilted, and its once-promising season spiraled to mediocrity.

The Tigers mustered just 123 yards, and the Razorbacks whipped No. 20 LSU 17-0 on Saturday night to snap a 17-game Southeastern Conference losing streak and get their first win over a ranked team in three years.

Read the rest here.

The Turning Point

Arkansas amassed a 12-play, 55-yard drive, ending with a touchdown with 11 minutes left in the game. Against an LSU team that struggles to pass the ball, a 17-point lead early in the fourth quarter was more than enough.

The Stars

  • RB Jonathan Williams: Williams ran for 55 hard yards on 18 carries, just a 3.1-yard average, but good enough. He had that game-clinching touchdown early in that fourth quarter.

    Brandon Allen converted third downs. (Travis Spradling)

    Brandon Allen converted third downs. (Travis Spradling)

  • QB Brandon Allen: Allen finished 16 of 27 for 169 yards. Those aren’t impressive numbers, but Allen was responsible for helping Arkansas convert numerous drive-extending third downs.
  • LB Martrell Spaight: He had a whopping 10 tackles and a sack, helping slow down an LSU rushing attack that had just 36 yards – nearly 200 below its average.

The Surprise

  • Rushing woes: LSU, as we mentioned above, had just 36 rushing yards on 32 carries – an average of 1.1 yards a carry. The Tigers had averaged 220 yards a game. Arkansas loaded the box and was bent on stopping the run. The Hogs did.

The Key Matchup

  • LSU O-line vs. Arkansas DL: A shuffled offensive line struggled to get any kind of push, and Jennings was sacked four times. LSU LG Vadal Alexander didn’t play in the game because of a hand injury he suffered against Alabama, and center Elliott Porter went out with an injury in the second quarter.

The Numbers

  • 10: Third downs Arkansas converted out of 17 chances.
  • 123: Total offensive yards for LSU.
  • 4: Times Jennings was sacked.

The Quote

“We got those guys’ back no matter what.” safety Ronald Martin on the offense

Game Day: LSU vs. Arkansas

DT Christian LaCouture has been a big reason why LSU's run defense has improved. (Travis Spradling)

DT Christian LaCouture has been a big reason why LSU’s run defense has improved. (Travis Spradling)

This blog will updated with pregame notes and news starting at about three hours before kickoff.

UPDATES

  • 6:45: A team spokesman confirms that Evan Washington will start in place of Vadal Alexander.
  • 6:25: Evan Washington is practicing with the first string at left guard in place of Vadal Alexander. Looks like he’ll be the starter.
  • 5:12: LSU starting left guard Vadal Alexander didn’t make the trip with the team. More here. 
  • 4:50: It apparently sleeted on the LSU team bus on the way to the stadium, according to Michael Bonnette.

  • 4:05 p.m.: Live shot at Razorback Stadium.

The Info

  • Match: No. 20 LSU (7-3, 3-3) vs. Arkansas (4-5, 0-5)
  • TDP: 7:06 p.m., Saturday, Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville
  • TV: ESPN2 (Joe Tessitore, Brock Huard, Shannon Spake)
  • Series Record: LSU leads 37-20-2

Players To Watch (LSU)

  • DT Christian LaCouture: LaCouture is one of the few cold weather guys on the team, having been raised in the northeast (he spent his last year of high school in Nebraska). His growth and improvement throughout the season has been a key part in LSU’s recent success against the run.
  • RB Leonard Fournette: The freshman needs just 20 yards rushing at Arkansas to surpass Jeremy Hill for fourth on LSU’s all-time freshman rushing list. He’ll likely need more than 20 if LSU’s gonna win this one. The Tigers will be without senior Kenny Hilliard for the final two games.

    Colby Delahoussaye has missed two fields goal in his career. (Angela Major)

    Colby Delahoussaye has missed two fields goal in his career. (Angela Major)

  • PK Colby Delahoussaye: Delahoussaye has missed just two field goals in 25 career attempts. He’ll face the most adverse kicking conditions of, maybe, his career as a kicker (including high school days in New Iberia). These two run-heavy teams are likely to be locked in a low-scoring close game – a match in which a kicker is needed.

Players To Watch (Arkansas)

  • QB Brandon Allen: Allen is not the same quarterback who played at LSU last season. He’s improved and is completing 57 percent of his passes. He’s thrown just five interceptions to 15 touchdowns.
  • WR Keon Hatcher: Who? I’m sure that’s what you’re thinking. Hatcher had seven catches for 84 yards last season in the Hogs’ loss at LSU. He’s Arkansas’ leading receiver with 32 catches for 410 yards. LSU’s secondary is one of the best in the nation, but the Tigers are down two semi-starters (Rashard Robinson and Dwayne Thomas).
  • DE Trey Flowers: Flowers had a sack against LSU last season, and he’s got a team-leading 9.5 tackles for loss this year. LSU’s offensive tackles – Jerald Hawkins and La’el Collins – have their hands full.

Key Matchup

  • LSU run game vs. Arkansas run defense: This seems like the Key Matchup each week, but that’s just how it goes with this LSU football team. If the Tigers can run, they can win. Arkansas allowed Georgia and Auburn to both rush for more than 200 yards.

The Opponent (Sagarin ratings)

  • Sagarin rating: No. 30
  • Best win: 49-28 over No. 81 Texas Tech
  • Worst loss: 35-28 (OT) to No. 16 Texas A&M
  • Sagarin strength of schedule: No. 5
  • Record vs. Sagarin Top 30: 0-5

The Series

Last 10

  • 2013: LSU 31-27 (Baton Rouge)
  • 2012: LSU 20-13 (Fayetteville)
  • 2011: LSU 41-17 (Baton Rouge)
  • 2010: Arkansas 31-23 (Little Rock)
  • 2009: LSU 33-30 OT (Baton Rouge)
  • 2008: Arkansas 31-30 (Little Rock)
  • 2007: Arkansas 50-48 3OT (Baton Rouge)
  • 2006: LSU 31-26 (Little Rock)
  • 2005: LSU 19-17 (Baton Rouge)
  • 2004: LSU 43-14 (Little Rock)

Biggest series wins

  • LSU: 36-4 (32 points) in 1908
  • Arkansas: 51-0 (51 points) in 1910

The Spread

Arkansas -1

Five memorable games: LSU vs. Arkansas

This marks the first time since the SEC expanded in 1992 that LSU and Arkansas haven’t been scheduled as each other’s regular-season finale. The Tigers will now play Texas A&M to end the regular season while Arkansas gets Missouri, but while things are changing between the two long rivals plenty of memories remain. Here are five memorable games from the LSU-Arkansas rivalry:

Jan. 1, 1947 – LSU 0, Arkansas 0: Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle said this Cotton Bowl was the coldest game he ever played. Rain, sleet and snow left fans shivering in the stands in Dallas. LSU held a 271-54 edge in total offense and 15-1 edge in first downs but couldn’t manage to score in a game that became known as the Ice Bowl.

Jan. 1, 1966 – LSU 14, Arkansas 7: The Razorbacks were ranked No. 2 and riding a 22-game winning streak going into this Cotton Bowl, but a 7-3 Tigers team pulled what ranks as one of the program’s all-time greatest upsets. Joe Labruzzo scored on a pair of 1-yard runs and Jerry Joseph’s fourth-quarter interception denied Arkansas a national title.

Nov. 29, 2002 – Arkansas 21, LSU 20: The year of the Bluegrass Miracle for the Tigers at Kentucky was also the year of the Markham Street Miracle for the Razorbacks. Trailing 20-14, Matt Jones hit Richard Smith for a 50-yard gain, then found DeCori Birmingham in the back of the end zone on a 31-yard TD pass with :09 remaining. The win propelled Arkansas, not LSU, into the SEC Championship Game.

Nov. 24, 2006 – LSU 31, Arkansas 26: Darren McFadden scored on an 80-yard run to pull Arkansas within 24-19, but Trindon Holliday returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a score. Felix Jones added another TD for Arkansas but LSU’s defense held, allowing the Tigers to run out the final 1:31. Arkansas finished first in the SEC West, but it was LSU that wound up in the Sugar Bowl.

Nov. 23, 2007 – Arkansas 50, LSU 48 (3OT): Working out of the Wild Hog formation, McFadden led the Razorbacks to an upset of No. 1-ranked LSU in Tiger Stadium. McFadden rushed for 206 yards on 32 carries and three TDs and threw for a fourth score. LSU couldn’t keep the game going in the third overtime, as Matterral Richardson intercepted Matt Flynn’s two-point pass, but did recover to win its second BCS title.

Pick 6: Q and A with an Arkansas beat reporter

Robbie Neiswanger, while also joining us for this week’s Pick 6, is urging the Arkansas athletic department to move Saturday’s game to the Caribbean island of Aruba – and out of chilly northwest Arkansas (where 20-degree temps and snow await).

Aruba, the new site of LSU-Arkansas (not really).

Aruba, the new site of LSU-Arkansas (not really).

We’re hoping his plight his fruitful, but we are not confident. We are confident in his knowledge of the Hogs, and he shares that with us in this Q&A.

You can follow Robbie on Twitter at @NWARobbie and read his work here.

1. Arkansas has played a few teams down to the wire – Texas A&M, Alabama, Mississippi State – but the Hogs’ 17-game SEC losing streak continued. What’s the feeling up in Fayetteville about where the program is and where it’s headed in Year 2 under Brett Bielema?

The improvement in Year 2 is really clear. The Razorbacks have more talent, experience and depth. They’re much more physical on both sides of the ball. It’s easy to see what Bielema is trying to build.

They just haven’t experienced a breakthrough in SEC play. That’s why there’s plenty of frustration for everyone involved – players, coaches and fans. Arkansas knows it’s making progress, but it’s about time to see the rewards. No one around the state wants to see the skid extend to 2015.

2. Temperature at kickoff is expected to be around 30 degrees with possible snow. What’s Arkansas doing to prepare for playing in such conditions?

The Razorbacks are getting out in the cold. Bielema said Monday his team would “embrace the chill” and the Hogs have done so.

Arkansas has an indoor practice facility, but worked in the stadium while temperatures were in the 30s on Tuesday and Wednesday. Bielema’s belief is that the week-long acclimation will give his team an advantage on Saturday night. So Arkansas is trying to make the most of it.

3. Arkansas is 12th nationally, averaging 5.7 yards a rush. Why are they so good at running the football?

Alex Collins is one of a two-part Arkansas rushing attack that averages 5.7 yards a carry. (AP)

Alex Collins is one of a two-part Arkansas rushing attack that averages 5.7 yards a carry. (AP)

To be honest, Arkansas has done a good job of mauling smaller defenses. The majority of their rushing production came against Nicholls State, Texas Tech, Northern Illinois and UAB.

The Razorbacks have only cracked 200 yards in SEC play once – and it came more than a month ago against Texas A&M. They’ve had other issues, too, getting stuffed in key short-yardage situations against the Aggies, Alabama and Mississippi State.

Statistically, Arkansas has been a solid rushing team. The Razorbacks have two talented backs and a big offensive line. But they know there’s a lot of room for improvement and get their next chance Saturday.

4. The Hogs need to win two of their last three games to reach bowl eligibility. Do you think this happens and how will the fan base take another bowl-less year if it doesn’t happen?

I’m not comfortable saying a team that hasn’t won an SEC game in more than two years can win two in three weeks. I just don’t know. It feels like Arkansas is going to break through and snap the skid before the season ends, but there’s no Vanderbilt on this schedule.

But I do believe Arkansas will be within reach during each of its final three games against LSU, Ole Miss and Missouri. This team just has to figure out how to make plays in the fourth quarter to win one. Then another.

There will be disappointment if there’s no bowl, but I think the biggest thing is finding a way to end this streak. Finishing 5-7 overall, 1-7 in the SEC doesn’t look great, but it’s so much better than dragging a 20-game losing streak through the offseason.

5. How far has Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen come since the start of last season?

QB Brandon Allen is a much different player than the one LSU saw last season. (AP)

QB Brandon Allen is a much different player than the one LSU saw last season. (AP)

Allen was a first-year starter who had a shoulder injury that limited his ability to practice over the final eight weeks of the season in 2013. Not exactly a recipe for success.

He has been healthy this year, is much more comfortable and it shows. Allen’s passing numbers are up and the mistakes are down. He has command of the offense and has earned the trust of his teammates.

It’s no surprise Arkansas is better because of it. That doesn’t mean Allen has become an elite quarterback. He’s 0-14 as a starter in SEC games after all. He has thrown interceptions at critical points in two games (Alabama and Mississippi State) and has looked erratic at other times. But there’s no doubt he’s better than the quarterback LSU saw last season.

6. Where can LSU exploit Arkansas’ defense?

That’s much more difficult to answer this year because Arkansas has tightened up under first-year coordinator Robb Smith. It’s not as easy to run on the Hogs, who have given up 200 or more rushing yards only twice (Auburn and Georgia).

There has been improvement on the back end, too, with the secondary playing with much more confidence. But Arkansas still isn’t rock-solid back there. Miscommunication left a receiver open for a 69-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter at Mississippi State. Texas A&M hit the Hogs for two big plays in the fourth quarter as well.

So LSU — which stung Arkansas with a big pass play last season — could have opportunities downfield if it can take advantage of them Saturday.

Times Of Interest: LSU vs. Arkansas

The Boot trophy will on display on the LSU sidelines Saturday. (Bill Feig)

The Boot trophy will on display on the LSU sidelines Saturday. (Bill Feig)

Friday
10 a.m.                                  The Boot arrives at Razorback Stadium 
1:55 p.m.                              Team departs campus
2:45 p.m.                              Charter flight departs Baton Rouge Airport
4 p.m.                                    Team arrives in Bentonville, Ark.   
4:40 p.m.                              Team arrives at Embassy Suites in Rogers, Ark.   
Saturday
3 p.m.                                   Boot unpacked and put on display on LSU sidelines
4:30 p.m.                              Team departs hotel for stadium 
5 p.m.                                    Team arrives at stadium
7:02 p.m.                              Arkansas takes the field
7:02:30 p.m.                         LSU takes the field
7:03 p.m.                              Coin toss at midfield                       
7:06 p.m.                              Kickoff: LSU at Arkansas on ESPN2  

LSU bowl projections: Week 12

The LSU Tigers may have taken a big emotional hit in their 20-13 overtime loss to Alabama, but their bowl prospects are still pretty bright heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Of 15 national bowl projections, eight have the Tigers (7-3) in a Florida bowl. ESPN.com LSU and SEC blogger David Ching puts LSU in the Citrus Bowl, the SEC’s top non-CFP bowl, against Michigan State.

Four projections have LSU returning to the Outback Bowl, where the Tigers beat Iowa on New Year’s Day. Zac Ellis of SI.com and Dave Lassan of Athlon Sports have LSU taking on Nebraska and former defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.

Three more picks have the Tigers going to the Taxslayer (formerly Gator) Bowl on Jan. 2 in Jacksonville.

Four picks have LSU in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina. That might not sound like the most appealing long-distance trip to a lot of Tiger fans, but it might be if Bill Bender of The Sporting News, Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com and Brad Crawford of SaturdayDownSouth.com are correct. All three have the Tigers playing in the Belk Bowl opposite Notre Dame.

Phil Steele also has LSU in the Belk Bowl playing frequent Peach Bowl opponent Georgia Tech.

After teams are selected for the six CFP bowls and the Citrus Bowl makes its pick, the SEC will slot its remaining bowl-eligible teams into the bowls with which the conference has ties.

Bowl bids will be announced Dec. 7.

BOWL PROJECTIONS

  • Bill Bender, The Sporting News: Belk Bowl vs. Notre Dame
  • David Ching (LSU and SEC blogger) and Adam Rittenberg (Big Ten blogger), ESPN.com: Citrus Bowl vs. MichiganState
  • CollegeSportsMadness.com: Outback Bowl vs. Wisconsin
  • CollegeFootballNews.com: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State
  • Brad Crawford, SaturdayDownSouth.com: Belk Bowl vs. Notre Dame
  • Zac Ellis, SI.com: Outback Bowl vs. Nebraska
  • Jason Kirk, SBNation.com: Liberty Bowl vs. Oklahoma State
  • Dave Lassan, Athlon Sports: Outback Bowl vs. Nebraska
  • Brett McMurphy, ESPN.com: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Miami (Florida)
  • Dave Miller, NationalFootballPost.com: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Maryland
  • Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com: Belk Bowl vs. Notre Dame
  • Brant Parsons, Orlando Sentinel: Texas Bowl vs. Houston
  • Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com: Taxslayer Bowl vs. Nebraska
  • Erick Smith, USAToday.com: Liberty Bowl vs. West Virginia
  • Phil Steele, PhilSteele.com: Belk Bowl vs. Georgia Tech

THE ADVOCATE’S PICK

If the season ended today there would be only one SEC team (Mississippi State) in the CFP semifinals, with Alabama, Auburn and likely Ole Miss occupying spots in the non-semifinal CFP bowls (Orange, Peach, Cotton and Fiesta).

That would likely leave Georgia to the Citrus Bowl, then put LSU in a pool of teams for the six bowls the SEC will fill itself (Outback, Taxslayer, Music City, Belk, Liberty and Texas).

LSU was in the Outback Bowl last season and opened the season in Houston (site of the Texas Bowl), so those are less likely options. For now, we’ll project the Tigers in the Taxslayer Bowl, where LSU hasn’t played since 1987.

BOWL GUIDE

  • Texas Bowl: Dec. 29, Houston
  • Liberty Bowl: Dec. 29, Memphis
  • Belk Bowl, Dec. 30, Charlotte
  • Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1, Orlando
  • Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, Tampa
  • Taxslayer Bowl: Jan. 2, Jacksonville

Twitter Mailbag: You asked about the QBs, getting over Bama, the QBs and the QBs

The quarterbacks were a hot topic this week. (Travis Spradling)

The quarterbacks were a hot topic this week. (Travis Spradling)

Twitter Mailbag is a blog series running each Tuesday answering readers’ questions about the LSU football team. Readers submit their questions through Twitter each Tuesday, and the best are posted here with answers. Follow us on Twitter at @DellengerAdv to submit a question.

For those who don’t know, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee are seniors. The only returning backs LSU will have are Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams.

Miles likes having a running back by committee approach, and I think he’ll always lean on two to three backs, but one is always the featured guy. This year, that’s been Fournette.

Fournette has 151 carries, Hilliard has 87, Magee 81 and Williams 55. I would expect to see Fournette’s carries increase next season, and that goes for Williams too.

Ah, the question everyone wants answered: Should Brandon Harris get playing time in these last two games?

Look, a championship is out of reach, yes, but LSU can still win double digit games for the fifth straight year – a school record. Miles, I’m sure, would rather finish the regular season 9-3 than 7-5. There’s a big difference there.

I expect Miles to start/play the best players who give him the best chance to win a game. Of late, that’s been Anthony Jennings at QB. But there’s no denying this fact: Harris is more talented and has even been dubbed by Miles as the program’s future. Maybe he should see more series in these last two games than he’s seen on a normal basis.

Another quarterback questions!? Well, of course. LSU has two quarterbacks committed over the next two classes:

– 2015: Justin McMillian, 3 star, 38th ranked dual-threat QB

– 2016: Feleipe Franks, 4 star, 1st ranked dual threat QB

McMillian, according to recruiting analysts, isn’t a guy who could play immediately. Franks is, they say.

The loss is lingering. There’s no denying that after we spoke with players on Monday. It’s a tough one to swallow, and I expect the hangover to stretch deep into the week.

This is a tough week for LSU. I can’t imagine a more difficult turnaround than this:

Lose in dramatic fashion at home against a top-5 rival in a physically exhausting game and then travel to a lengthy road game to play in 30 degree temperatures and possible snow against a team that hasn’t hasn’t won an SEC game in two years but has been playing well.

Tough one.

I’m gonna pass on your first questions (sorry), and take your second.

Keep in mind that LSU won’t have the type of underclassmen departures it had the last two seasons (16 overall: 10 in 2012 and 6 in 2013). But a few could bail early. Here’s a list of potential juniors and redshirt sophomores who could leave early:

  • LG Vadal Alexander
  • RT Jerald Hawkins
  • WR Travin Dural
  • DE Danielle Hunter
  • CB Jalen Mills
  • LB Kwon Alexander

Do I expect all of these guys to leave? No. Do I expect half to leave? Maybe. That’s probably more realistic is that 2-3 will leave.

QB question No. 3! Jennings has struggled, but at the same time, LSU is 7-2 this season with him as the starting quarterback. As long as LSU keeps winning at that rate and Jennings doesn’t find the turnover bug, Miles will keep AJ as his quarterback.

That said, Jennings’ struggles this season likely leave the starting job open during the off-season. Expect another off-season battle to rage for the gig. I would look for something similar to last year, with Harris and Jennings fighting it out in the spring and during fall camp.

QB question No. 4! I still want to win my remaining games. As mentioned above, there’s a big difference between being 9-3 and 7-5.

At the same time, I want to give Brandon Harris more live game action than he’s seen. Maybe Harris plays two series in the first half and two series in the second half in the next two games? I wouldn’t expect that to happen. But that may be what I would do.

Scott Rabalais rounds up the national bowl projections each week and posts them on Thursdays so check back here for that tomorrow (Thursday).

That said, the TaxSlayer Bowl has been a popular pick for LSU over the last few weeks. That’s the old Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.